6/17/2024
Severance

Severance

This thrilling new take on the zombie genre combines social commentary on globalism, capitalism, immigration and belonging while ratcheting up tension as a group of survivors struggle in a post-apocalyptic planet ravaged by disease. The story flips between present and the near-past as we learn more about a world in the midst of collapse. You will be hooked by the main character's resilience as she seeks hope and freedom from the fever.

6/10/2024
The Jinn Daughter

The Jinn Daughter

In a tale of jinns, middle-eastern mythology and the underworld, this vibrant story resonates with imagination, magic and compelling fairy-tale vibes. A moving portrait of a mother’s love and her desperation to outmanoeuvre death is presented with fascinating characters and an evocative writing style. Storytelling is at the heart of this ambitious Arabian tale in a unique exploration of the concepts of grief and the will to live.

6/3/2024
About Uncle

About Uncle

This strangely beautiful, claustrophobic little book drops you deep into the tiny home and day-to-day life of Uncle and his nephew and niece. Uncle is quite a repellent concoction of excess and loud, smelly bodily functions. The 'yuk' factor is high. Yet his nephew (at first) and niece (later on her own) look after him, with care and even tenderness. It made me wonder why - and think hard about what binds any of us together as family.

5/27/2024
Verdigris

Verdigris

Monstrous and beguiling, tender and humorous, this is the story of an unlikely friendship between an older man suffering a decline of memory and a young boy growing into adulthood. As Felice unravels, Michelino draws the threads of his life together and the old man’s madness begins to become a dark reality.

5/20/2024
All the Little Bird-Hearts

All the Little Bird-Hearts

Autistic mother Sunday lives with her teenage daughter, Dolly, in a small cottage in the Lake District. When outwardly polished and seemingly charming couple, Vita and Rollo, come to live next door, Dolly and Sunday soon come under their spell. I loved the brooding atmosphere in the book, as much as the voice of Sunday who is brutally honest telling the story.

5/13/2024
City of O

City of O

This surreal satire will have you laughing at the relationships of a band of harlequins and cringing at the decadence of the City of O, where citizens routinely buy extreme body modifications or even order mountain ranges to be placed in view of their penthouse suites! Anyone seeking a witty, fantastical read with razor-sharp social commentary should grab a copy today.

5/6/2024
The Bleeding

The Bleeding

Atmospheric from the outset, this mystery will grip you immediately. What begins in the tone of a police procedural becomes more gothic at the turn of every page. Tangled stories of three women living and suffering in eras spanning over a century gradually weave together and something much darker and supernatural in nature is revealed. Prepare for a tense and shocking read.

4/29/2024
The Starling House

The Starling House

Wonderfully entertaining gothic horror. I enjoyed all the usual elements: Opal’s tragic family history, the creepy house with the beasts in the cellar and the attraction between two loners. Don’t expect fast paced action - the plot builds slowly which is perfect for the story.

4/22/2024
Delivery

Delivery

The line between what’s real and what’s imagined blurs wildly in this short, impactful story where a writer, who is far from home, battles with the scars she carries from her fractured family relationships. Whilst it looks at motherhood, loss and belonging you never feel that it is a novel of themes. Instead I was caught up in the day to day life of this writer, and her spiralling descent from reality.

4/15/2024
You’d Look Better as a Ghost

You’d Look Better as a Ghost

Delight in the shocking combination of a light-hearted tone and vicious humour in this serial killer romp. Told with deadpan humour, you'll find yourself siding with the damaged main character as she leads an increasingly twisty killing spree, uncovering other people's secrets and narrowly escaping discovery along the way. While told with a light touch this book does include themes of abuse of children and the elderly as well as grief and loss.

4/8/2024
The Men

The Men

There's a meaty speculative sci-fi hook at the heart of this read: suddenly, everyone with a Y chromosome disappears. What follows is a rush of ideas - political, social, scientific - as society is reformed by women, in the absence of men. Fragments of weirdly otherworldly material are intercut throughout, while at its core are grounded and grim stories of sexual and racial abuse and ongoing trauma. The effect is disorientating and compelling.

4/1/2024
The Glutton

The Glutton

Tarare, cursed by the circumstance of poverty lives a life blighted by violence and want. Naive and vulnerable, he is exploited by society, his insatiable hunger used as a side show, a scientific curiosity and tool of war until he comes to embody the monstrosity of what he has experienced. Though dark and gory, this book is also full of beauty, humour and tenderness. Bizarre at times, this unique read is one you’ll want to gorge on!

3/25/2024
The Hunger of Women

The Hunger of Women

Rosa combats her loneliness with a frenzied cooking spree. The locals, following the exquisite fragrances, flock to her home to indulge in sumptuous feasts of food and love. A mouth watering and sensual celebration of gluttony and passion - what's not to love? The move away from traditional sentences and punctuation may seems strange at first - but I found it really helps the narrative to flow.

3/18/2024
Mister, Mister

Mister, Mister

This is an engrossing and thought-provoking novel about identity and belonging. You are drawn into a world where cultures collide, secrets unravel while an undercurrent of dread creeps along, but also where the power of friendship shines through. This book is a must-read for anyone seeking a deeply satisfying and enlightening story.

3/11/2024
Tell Me I'm Worthless

Tell Me I'm Worthless

An emotional rollercoaster that is heart-wrenching and inspiring, unflinching and visceral in its exploration of identity, mental health and self-worth. Its authenticity and rawness makes it a challenging but important read, and one that will resonate long after you finish the last page.

3/4/2024
Whale

Whale

This story twists and turns through a magical and sometimes grotesque world of giants, tricksters, a girl who can communicate with elephants, a crone who controls honey bees with a whistle, the building of a cinema and the making of many bricks. Full of surprises, violence and humour, this is a page-turner on an epic scale.

2/26/2024
The Chain-Gang-All-Stars

The Chain-Gang-All-Stars

This is a future US where violent criminals become idols and sex symbols and compete for freedom in Hard Action Sports. Physically and mentally tortured, they must kill or be killed in televised matches. Broad in scope and told from multiple perspectives, this violent novel packs a punch as it examines sin, redemption, prejudice and privilege. It’s a discomforting read interspersed with factual footnotes that show injustice is a reality.

2/19/2024
The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

The Jewish and black residents of a poor neighborhood in Pennsylvania come together to welcome a deaf-mute boy into their community. When he is placed in an inhumane institution, at the hands of a racist, they form a complex plan to free him. I enjoyed the storytelling, the dry wit and the way the author paints the people, but was shocked at the scenes in the psychiatric ward. But in the end, it's the good in ordinary people that delivers hope.

2/12/2024
The Coward

The Coward

A car accident leaves Jarred unable to walk again. And to make matters worse, he will now have to live with his father. This sets the tone for a book that is as candid as anything you're likely to read on family relationships, disability and coming to terms with life pre and post accident . Punctuated with some bitingly funny humour, Jarred will be a character you will want to get to know and cheer for.

2/5/2024
Salt Slow

Salt Slow

Slyly beautiful, and with a teasingly unnerving relationship to reality, this short story collection will seductively detour you into the uncanny. This is a place where boundaries blur and merge: between land and sea, skin and bone, human and animal, the mythic and the everyday. The horror-lore of vampires and werewolves lurks here, but only in shadow-glimpses; what gives this collection its greatest power is its profound emotionality.

1/29/2024
Ada’s Realm

Ada’s Realm

Ada is born and reborn in a 15th century Ghanaian village, a world war 2 concentration camp and modern day London and Berlin. Her lives are linked by a bracelet and a narrator who embodies a door knocker, a hut and a passport - and who has a long running tussle with God to be born a human. Moving yet often funny, I loved the whole concept and originality of this debut novel and its progress through the centuries. God is brilliant!

1/22/2024
Your Love Is Not Good

Your Love Is Not Good

A challenging read, in which the nameless main character reflects on youth, heritage, race, art and sexuality. Sometimes dreamlike, even hallucinating, sometimes harsh or brutal. Every detail seems to count, while the artist painter questions motivations and goals in life, and tries to come to terms with it. A haunting tale that keeps on lingering.

1/15/2024
Western Lane

Western Lane

Deceptively simple, this short novel doesn’t need prior knowledge of the game of squash. The game highlights how this British Pakistani family is dealing with their collective grief, and we watch their emotions unfold through small gestures, overheard conversations and familial obligations, hiding their heartbreak. A great deal is revealed in the silence between them. I was thinking of Gopi and her sisters long after I finished reading.

1/8/2024
Fish Tale

Fish Tale

It starts with a dream, a missing painting and a fatal fishing accident - an incident around which multiple lives over numerous generations then revolve. Gambles are taken and decisions made on the flip of a coin for which the outcomes are far reaching and unexpected. This unusual read is as slippery as a fish. It’s playful, whimsical, even absurd but also asks big questions about chance, fortune and self determination.

1/1/2024
Cuddy

Cuddy

The immense personality and legacy of St Cuthbert (Cuddy) shines through every page of this alternative history of Northeast England. It could have been like a novel by Tolstoy – a saga of the significance of common people - but although epic in dimension, it defies genre. Instead it delivers a forceful fusion of scholarly hagiography, psychic poetry, wonderment at architectural triumph and a profound empathy for the victims of history.

12/25/2023
A Hunger

A Hunger

This is a novel about love and duty: about a woman's ambition to have a career and to excel in it, and how a woman is expected to put her husband first, especially when he becomes very ill and is dependent on her. This is what Anita has to deal with - and how she copes is the story that unfolds. Sufficient to say that coping is not easy and the demands of duty are very hard indeed.

12/18/2023
Dryland

Dryland

A hazy and fluid coming of age story told from the perspective of 15 year old Julie, at the moment of her own queer sexual awakening. Evocatively set in the early 1990s, REM, skater culture and the haze of clove cigarettes run throughout. The read is gentle, dreamlike and detached, as Julie is haunted by the absence of her swimming superstar brother and seeks to re-discover him - and herself - in the depths and rhythms of the swimming pool.

12/11/2023
Best of Friends

Best of Friends

If you still have bonds with childhood friends even though you've taken different directions, this book will resonate profoundly. Its easy and thoughtful evocation of two talented women making careers and relationships across decades and continents is quietly astonishing. Perceptive, vanity-puncturing and unexpectedly hopeful.

12/4/2023
The Love of Singular Men

The Love of Singular Men

Camilo uses crutches, his parents are always fighting, the heat is oppressive. Everything changes when his father brings a mysterious boy, Cosme, to live with them. This is a moving novella of first love and loss, perfect to read in one sitting.

11/27/2023
The Fish

The Fish

Tenderness and beauty turn to division and turmoil as environmental, world-wide crises wreak havoc for three diverse characters. This cautionary tale on climate has elements of the fantastical but its authenticity is undeniable. This is a unsettling reflection on humanity’s denial of the damage being caused to our planet

11/20/2023
Your Show

Your Show

Forget over-hyped sports memoirs, this is a fast, pacy novel that conveys what football is really like. It focuses on the ref – the figure hated by pretty much everyone. Plus this ref is Black – the only one in the League. I didn’t know Rennie, I looked him him up when I finished and found out the whole story is true – even more respect for that.

11/13/2023
Traces of Enayat

Traces of Enayat

This is a strange but mesmerising book. It tells of the detailed search into the life of Enayat al-Zayyat, a young Egyptian female author who committed suicide before the publication of her only novel. Also bound up with the posy-colonial politics of Egypt and, specifically, what happened to women under Nassar. It's by no means an easy read, but it is fascinating, and shows how the struggle continues across generations.

11/6/2023
Bellies

Bellies

This isn’t a long novel but I came away feeling that I had been on a journey with the characters. Sometimes I loved them, sometimes I thought they were awful, but I was completely absorbed in their story. Transitioning is only a part - because the book is also about friendship, family and love, delivered through a story that exudes snark, exuberant youthfulness, and dances around everyone’s longing to be seen for who they really are.

10/30/2023
The Secret Book of Flora Lea

The Secret Book of Flora Lea

After finding a fairytale written by an unknown American writer in the antiquarian bookshop where she works, Hazel embarks on a journey to find her long lost sibling. I found this a lovely tale of lost innocence, true friendship and the consolation of fantasy and nature.

10/23/2023
Of Cattle and Men

Of Cattle and Men

A sparse and brutal read with an almost biblical sense of allegory. We are immersed, gut-deep, in the bloody reality of a slaughterhouse. We smell and sweat, kill and emote with the workers. The story that emerges is one of mystery - as cattle begin to behave strangely, the workers attempt to understand why. But this read is more one of sensory experience than plotting: it's as short and powerful as a stun-gun, but not without tenderness.

10/16/2023
When I Sing, Mountains Dance

When I Sing, Mountains Dance

This highly poetic novel showed me a small mountain community where people live in symbiosis with animals, nature and the spirit world. I felt the cruelty of life, the resilience of the people and the beauty of seeing and accepting what is there. Told from different perspectives, be it human or non-human, the language has a beautiful echoing rhythm, ranging from astoundingly poetic to down-to-earth, all resonating in your head for a long time.

10/9/2023
The Silence Project

The Silence Project

Emilia’s grief is forced into the spotlight as she struggles to align herself with her mother, an activist who changed the world though coordinating a mass suicide. Gripping from the outset, the reader experiences the shocks, revelations and confusion with the protagonist as she compiles her memoir, recounting her struggle to separate her mother from the personality propelled and twisted by the increasingly powerful Community she left behind.

10/2/2023
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed

A short story collection that may seduce or repel you, but is impossible to ignore. The stories reach extreme places of terror and horror, but are always grounded in a tangible reality and recognisable social divisions of class, adolescence and generational trauma. Although an intense reading experience, most of the stories are brief stabs, allowing you chance to gasp and reach for daylight in-between tales.

9/25/2023
Patricia Wants To Cuddle

Patricia Wants To Cuddle

A unique and bitingly entertaining cocktail of reality TV satire and gory body-horror, this read will gleefully keep you on your toes. Set in the final stages of a reality TV dating show, we follow the power-plays of the remaining contestants where nothing is off-limits in their bid to win. It's a thrillingly fast and wild ride, often bloody and monstrous, but ultimately a hopeful one of queer solidarity and survival, both human and Sasquatch.

9/18/2023
Yellowface

Yellowface

A hapless writer steals the unfinished manuscript of her late popular Asian friend. With its publication under her own name, the discussion about cultural appropriation gets going and everything becomes seriously out of hand. This novel is simultaneously satire, indictment and suspense. A brilliant combination that held my attention until the bitter end.

9/11/2023
Peaces

Peaces

Set on a mysterious luxury train, this is a high velocity, surreal romp of a story. Journeying with non-honeymooners Xavier and Otto, the reader accumulates a bizarre collection of playful, dark and strange backstories. Reality, sanity and perception come into question as connections between the characters emerge. Prepare for the unexpected: for ancestral pet mongooses, paintings that can’t be seen but can be described and an invisible son.

9/4/2023
Nettleblack

Nettleblack

Hold on tight for a whimsical romp with a subversive Victorian detective agency who challenge their society’s expectations about women, sexuality and gender whilst engaged in increasingly chaotic investigations. Told with wit, eccentricity and tenderness, this mysterious farce will have you gripped until the final page.

8/28/2023
Pod

Pod

You might worry that an adventure tale of dolphins, featuring their intelligence and resourcefulness in overcoming the adversities of natural survival and ecological disaster, would feel anthropomorphically sentimental. Not so. The scientific research that Paull employs in her story raises it far above any such niceness, with a powerful moral message around environmental crisis.

8/21/2023
Sell Us the Rope

Sell Us the Rope

Young Stalin in London in 1907, still with a heart, and the magnetic, legendary figures surrounding him. This short novel fizzes with politics, spying and sexual attraction. It’s direct and pacy and so believable it’s exhilarating, even in the bits you know must be invented.

8/14/2023
The Housekeepers

The Housekeepers

This joyful romp of a book delivers an Edwardian heist fronted by an team of amazing women. The plotting is whip-smart and, as the action hots up, it delivers a high octane blast of energy. The lightness of touch belies a dark underbelly which will have you shouting for justice for the vulnerable and wronged. But the overall experience in one of pure entertainment building to a hugely satisfying climax. Hail the housekeepers.

8/7/2023
Wivenhoe

Wivenhoe

The story takes place in an alternative present; a world made small by isolation and the need to survive. A violent murder has taken place but the tale that follows contains tenderness as well as menace. It is told in turns by the perpetrator’s stepmother and brother with a beautiful honesty through which you feel their despair, anger and loss.

7/31/2023
The Swimmers

The Swimmers

Imagine a situation in which you are observing life from far above, then gradually you zoom in and see more details. That’s what this book felt like to me. And the closer I got, the more I got involved emotionally. And so the language also changes. From a laconic, elaborate style with irony and even sarcasm the writing evolves to a more poignant repetitive wording and a loving, honest image of a woman’s failing mind.

7/24/2023
The Things That We Lost

The Things That We Lost

Nikhil knows there is more to his father's death than his mother is telling him, but how easy is it to find out the truth when nobody wants to talk about it? The characters in this book are so real to us we love them as though they were our own. Nikhil is suffering at a vulnerable stage in his life and I just wanted to shield and protect him. A brilliant first novel
- hopefully the first of many.

7/17/2023
The New Life

The New Life

From the opening erotic scene, this book is an amazing mix of physical details, intellectual analysis and moral dilemmas. Passion and courage blend with self-obsession and disregard for others, especially women. The evocation of a moment when things could have been different for gay people, 100 years before they were, is extraordinarily moving.

7/10/2023
Cleopatra and Frankenstein

Cleopatra and Frankenstein

At times laugh out loud funny, often poignant and always engrossing, the reader inhabits the intense turmoil of Cleo and Frank’s relationship and the lives of those closest to them: lives lived flippantly and always on the verge of disaster. This novel has a hard honesty to it and contains scenes of sexual violence and self harm.